Jerusalem: Israeli forces kill Palestinian at Al-Aqsa Mosque gate

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  March 31, 2023

Eyewitnesses say 20 gunshots were heard being fired in less than a minute shortly after Tarawih prayer in the evening.

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man in Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday evening.

Local media said the young man, a medical student graduate, was shot after he tussled with Israeli forces stationed at the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsela) when they allegedly assaulted a Palestinian woman who was attempting to re-enter the mosque, according to eyewitnesses.  

Israeli police said in a statement that a man tried to grab a soldier’s weapon and was subsequently shot and “neutralized”. He was later confirmed dead and identified by relatives as Muhammad Al-Osaibi, a 26-year-old resident of the Naqab (Negev) region in southern Israel who studied medicine in Romania. 

There were no Israeli casualties.

Eyewitnesses said 20 gunshots were heard being fired in less than a minute, leaving one man wounded and lying on the floor near the Chain Gate. 

Israeli forces had closed the mosque’s gates after tens of thousands of worshippers left the complex following the Ramadan Tarawih night prayer. Police prevented anyone from returning to continue overnight prayers, according to Palestinian media. 

Footage shared online showed a man lying on the floor near the Chain Gate with Israeli officers standing nearby. 

Middle East Eye could not independently verify the videos.

Thousands attend Friday prayer

An eyewitness who remained with a small group of worshippers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque told local news outlet Al-Jarmaq News they heard the gunshots. 

He added that Israeli forces entered the courtyards of the mosque to remove banners erected by worshippers earlier in the day after the Friday noon prayer. 

Crowds chanted slogans after the prayer and put up signs in support of Palestinian resistance groups. 

The mosque was packed with nearly 250,000 Palestinians who flocked to the site for the second Friday prayer of Ramadan, according to figures provided by the mosque’s administrators. It is nearly four times the number of worshippers who attend the prayer on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces deployed more than 2,000 officers in the city and restricted movement and access to the site. 

The heightened security comes ahead of the Jewish holiday Passover, which will start on 5 April and last for a week. 

Israeli settlers are set to storm the mosque in large numbers to mark the holiday at a time when Palestinians observing the holy of month of Ramadan usually fill the area. Some settlers have called on authorities to allow them to conduct ritual animal slaughter in the courtyard of the mosque, which risks provoking Palestinians.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam and an area where non-Muslim prayers and rituals are forbidden according to decades-long international agreements. 

Israeli groups, in coordination with police, have long violated the delicate arrangement and facilitated unsolicited visits to the site and performed prayers and religious rituals. 

Israel’s control of East Jerusalem, including the Old City, violates several principles under international law, which stipulates that an occupying power has no sovereignty in the territory it occupies and cannot make any permanent changes there.